Once it was realised Alexis Sanchez would not be an Arsenal player by the end of the window, it was all doom and gloom and once it became clear Man Utd was the destination, it seemed to be even worse. To lose their best player to Jose Mourinho of all people seemed to just make the situation worse. But to replace him with Henrikh Mkhitaryan now was probably the best deal they were ever going to get, considering Sanchez’ attitude at Arsenal.
With Arsenal, that would usually be it. One in, one out. But as Aubameyang becomes the second new arrival at the Emirates this season, Arsenal may well have had one of their best transfer windows in a long time, especially given the circumstances.
There’s been a lot of hope around Arsenal with these two new signings and they could well have quite an exciting front line. But how will they fit the pieces together?
There really are a few possibilities as to the formation. Arsene Wenger could go back to the flat 442 with which he was invincible to accommodate Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang but I don’t think they have the midfield for that. Although with Granit Xhaka in the side, I’m not sure they have the midfield for any formation. A 442 diamond might work better with Xhaka at the base, Mkhitaryan and Jack Wilshere either side and Ozil at the tip of a narrow diamond with the full-backs providing the width. Wenger has abandoned the three at the back recently and they’d probably be no space for all four attackers so it probably won’t make a return. The classic 4231 formation would have Xhaka and Wilshere deep with Ozil in behind and Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang on the flanks. As none of the four are actual wingers, they may well lack width and lack balance whatever formation they play but the 4231 probably allows the most fluidity for the three behind the striker so would probably be best.
Personally, I like the 442 diamond; it would allow everyone to play in their right positions and probably be the only formation to do so. Two strikers right up top is unusual nowadays and has proven to be difficult to play against whenever it is used. With those two stretching the defence, Ozil’s service and Mkhitaryan’s direct runs, Arsenal will be a force going forward.
Despite the optimism around the signings, I’m not convinced Arsenal have bought the right type of players. They should have bought at least one out and out winger to replace Sanchez. Aubameyang’s pace may help to cover the lack of width in the side but they may lack balance in attack.
However good their attack may be though, there’s obviously still a long way to go. An overhaul is needed at the back – two new centre-backs and a defensive midfielder at least. Top four is out of the question with that defence.